How to Recognize and Prevent Abuse at College
Information and List of Valuable Resources on Bullying Awareness for Youth
All kinds of bullying are harmful and lead to serious mental issues in the future; that is why this topic is so hot nowadays.
According to shocking statistics of Liahona Academy, only 36% of bullied students report the issue, while 64% of victims suffer silently. Their research conducted in 2019 claims that one out of five teenagers experiences some form of abuse at college. Thousands of youngsters skip classes and prefer to stay home just to avoid being bullied. Unfortunately, over the last years, the numbers increased, while the new forms of abuse, like cyberbullying, appeared.
As the problem becomes more and more severe, we must unite as communities to recognize, prevent, and approach the consequences of students’ destructive behavior.
Bullying: what is it?
Bullying awareness starts with a clear definition of what it is. Sometimes, it is hard for us to distinguish bullying since there is a common myth that teenagers communicate through conflicts, especially – boys. While conflicts do happen, the problem with bullying is that this type of aggressive behavior bases on the imbalance of power and repetition. Children that use their physical dominance or manipulate with embarrassing information use their abilities and knowledge to control and harm others. Such behavior is considered as bullying when it repeats or has such potential. An abuser attacks, threats, and spreads rumors on purpose and continues to do that, realizing that his/her actions are harmful.
Types of bullying
Bullying behavior can take different forms. The youngest students usually use physical force, while teenagers are more subjected to verbal and psychological violence. While the first type is pretty obvious and distinguished easily, the second one can be concealed. Here are the most common forms bullying can take:
- Hitting and kicking
- Damaging someone’s property or taking it away
- Teasing and name-calling
- Spreading humiliating rumors
- Public humiliation
- Intended exclusion from the group
- Instigations of other people to abuse someone
- Creating a fake account of the victim and spoiling his/her reputation
- Sending nasty text messages via email or social media
- Publishing fallacies and humiliating information about someone
Bullying can be based on prejudices (racial, religious, sexual orientation, etc.); sexual ground (harassing gestures, name-calling, spreading of erotic content); personal attitudes (jealousy, desire to assert oneself humiliating others); or another background. Each of these intentions can be expressed in the form of either physical or psychological aggression.
How to distinguish bullying? Signs of abusers and those being abused
Here are the signs of a typical abuser:
- Control and domination
Abusers feel the necessity to control the behavior of other people. Also, they are addicted to the evaluation of their power – aggressive kids attack others to see how much influence and power they have.
Bullies resort to physical and verbal aggression. Most of them use abusive language and physical assault as if these actions were normal parts of everyday communication.
Bullies are fraught with impulsive actions and a lack of self-awareness. They rarely focus on the possible consequences of their behavior and ignore the feelings of other people. They show a lack of empathy and have no remorse about the destructive impact of their deeds.
Abusers break the established rules to lay down the new ones – their own. Doing so, they try to redefine the red lines of behavior and impose more control over their victims.
Also, awareness and prevention become possible when the opposite side can distinguish themselves as those being bulled. Here are the core signs to mind:
Bullied kids show a lack of interest in studying and other activities. They prefer to stay home instead of visiting classes or in-class events to avoid seeing their offenders.
- Low self-confidence
Verbal and physical violence makes victims tremulous to criticism, frustrated, unstable, and hostile. These are the traits of decreased self-esteem.
- Wild changes in mood
Teenagers experience mood swings too often. They can be considered as normal behavior, but parents should pay special attention to significant changes and their degree. When the child becomes hyper-sensitive and his/her mood changes too frequently, this might be a red flag.
The abiding anxiety can cause trouble sleeping. Children under the pressure of constant bullying experience nightmares and insomnia.
- Problems with studying
Awareness of bullying includes tracking of the academic performance. When student’s grades drop without a visible reason, this might be caused by depression, which roots in harassment and abuse.
- Problems with social contacts
Bullied children start avoiding social contacts and have difficulties with communication. Oftentimes, they run into isolation and, therefore – lose contact with supportive individuals.
How to prevent bullying?
Bullying awareness activities go hand in hand with prevention strategies. Educators and parents should practice them at college and at home. Let’s discuss the most efficient ones:
- Tolerance to “the other”
Numerous abusive situations happen because children are different. Frequently, representatives of other nations, gender, sexual orientation, and traditions become victims of bullying. Educators and parents should promote tolerance and explain that “the other” is not an enemy, but someone we can accept and learn from.
- Supportive groups
The significant part of victims stays silent because they have no idea where to go. They feel insecure, guilty, and lonely. Volunteer work and supportive organizations at campus should become an environment where students can share their troubles and get help.
- Official policies
The college policies should implement a confidential reporting system, guidelines into school culture, and clear rules of behavior. The administrators and teachers should keep in mind that zero-tolerance strategies don’t work, but make the situation even worse. Strict rules entail a high exclusion rate and students’ impulsive behavior.
How to cope with the consequences of destructive behavior?
Victims of bullying need support like no other. As a rule, children under the pressure of peers’ aggressive behavior become vulnerable. They find it hard to trust and confide in others. When talking to them, it is essential to:
- Convince the victim that he/she is not guilty
Youngsters need to be aware – they are not guilty of being bullied. They must know that bullying is a common problem, and numerous other people suffer from it. Explain that bullying has nothing to do with their personality.
- Be attentive to what they say
Bullied children need to know that someone cares about what they say and understands their pain. Most of them have difficulties when trying to describe the problem, so psychologists and counselors should work with them.
- Make them feel safe
It is important to take safety measures and convince victims that they are secure. To keep them away from harm, parents, and teachers can change the conditions of their everyday life. For example, assigning the seats on classroom and bus, changing the home/school route, and giving private tuition, if needed.
Victims require immediate help and support. If the psychological issues root into them, suicidal thoughts and long-term problems in adulthood won’t be long in coming. Parents, classmates, and teachers must be attentive to those being harassed and take measures as fast as possible.
Resources on bullying awareness and prevention
On this resource, parents and educators can find numerous articles on psychology. LearnPsychology provides advanced information on various mental issues in understandable terms. The presented article addresses the problem of bullying and abuse.
National Bullying Prevention organization provides all kinds of materials on bullying prevention. Here you will find official statistics, video lectures, stories of kids that suffered hardships, and links to involvement programs.
Storytelling is the best way to share messages and find answers to your questions. In this library, one can find numerous books that focus on the problem of bullying – both fictional and non-fictional.
Bullying.co.uk is the project of an organization called Family Lives. They provide family services in many different areas, including the support of bullying victims.
This resource helps teachers find a way to talk with kids about college violence. Here educators will find lesson plans, activities, and ideas on how to impose tolerance and positive in-class atmosphere.
Informational website for teens that teach how to protect themselves and others from abusive behavior. Here students will find action plans to develop a strategy and change the violent situation they witness or experience.
BackGroundChecks shares an extensive and detailed guide on cyberbullying and ways to prevent it.
The non-profit organization works to prevent all forms of student abuse. They provide educational sources against homophobia, discrimination, racism, violence at schools, and other issues.
The lifeline for students who suffer from bullying or know someone who does.
Richard Curwin, director of the Graduate Program in Behavior Disorder (David Yellin College), provides a detailed informational article on how to help kids deal with offending behavior and its consequences.
Unfortunately, almost anyone can become a victim of harassment and aggressive behavior. Such occasions happen at schools, colleges, offices, and even private settings. People who tend to become victims might be bullied for appearance, race, gender, sexual orientation, or something personal. Both forms of bullying – physical and emotional – are damaging and have long-term consequences.
College administrations and parents should provide students with channels of communication, guidelines, and support to raise bullying awareness and decrease the number of cases. While the information and resources provided below will help, each situation should be addressed individually regarding the circumstances.